Chancellor Carol Christ addresses diversity, housing in new UC Berkeley strategic plan

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In a campuswide email sent Tuesday, Chancellor Carol Christ introduced UC Berkeley’s latest strategic plan, which will invest heavily in the student experience, make new commitments within the campus’s research and academic spheres and foster a more welcoming and inclusive community for people of all backgrounds.

“It’s important to have a cohesive, well-reasoned, and forward-looking vision of what our university can be in order to properly set institutional priorities and determine campus investments,” said campus spokesperson Michael Dirda in an email.

He added that much has changed on campus since the last strategic plan, which was completed in 2002.

The current strategic plan is divided into four key areas: establishing the campus’s signature initiatives, creating transformative student experiences, identifying optimal enrollment levels and building a strong financial model, Christ said in a press release. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee began meeting with four working groups earlier this year to address the key areas, according to the Steering Committee’s final report.

“This plan is a governing framework that will help steer many of the administration’s efforts for a decade,” Dirda said. “It will help Berkeley better fulfill its public mission, improve the campus experience for many, operate more sustainably and have a greater impact upon the world in all manner of ways.”

One of the Steering Committee’s key recommendations — student success—  addressed the need for housing and endorsed full implementation of the Housing Master Plan Task Force, which recommends a goal of housing 50 percent of undergraduate students and 25 percent of graduate students. The campus currently houses 22 percent of its undergraduate student population and 9 percent of its graduate students.

The Steering Committee also suggested that the campus commit to increasing its proportions of Black, Latinx, Native American, low-income, first-generation and LGBTQ students. In addition, it recommended that the campus diversify its faculty by re-examining its admissions and hiring practices.

Other recommendations include holistically approaching financial operations, increasing financial transparency, increasing the number of graduate-level professional and academic master’s programs, improving campus facilities for students and expanding advising and mentoring programs.

“The plan includes both short and long-term goals,” Assistant Vice Chancellor Mia Settles-Tidwell said in an email. “Some components will be implemented faster than others.”

In March, former ASUC External Affairs Vice President Rigel Robinson criticized the campus for lack of student representation in the strategic planning process. Student input under the most recent plan was sought via campuswide town halls and meetings with the Academic Senate, ASUC Senate, Graduate Assembly and student organizations, according to the Steering Committee’s report.

“I am most excited about the renewed and urgent commitment to increased diversity of the student, staff, and faculty populations, as well as our goal to improve campus experiences and broaden access through the creation of equitable experiences for all,” Settles-Tidwell said in an email.

Andreana Chou covers student life. Contact Andreana Chou at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AndreanaChou.